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AbstractAre you really picky about food? Or do you know someone who is? It might be because he or she is a supertaster! To supertasters, the flavors of foods are much stronger than to average tasters. Are you a supertaster? Find out with this tongue-based science fair project!
Determine what percentage of the population are supertasters, average tasters, and non-tasters.
Do you hate the taste of broccoli? Or think that grapefruit is extremely bitter? If so, you may be able to blame it on your taste buds! Taste buds are sensory organs on your tongue that help you sense different flavors. Each taste bud is made up of about 150 cells, called receptors. Each receptor is best at sensing a single flavor: sweet, salty, bitter, or sour. The sum total of these sensations is the "taste" of the food.
The number of taste buds varies from person to person. People who have more taste buds are called supertasters. To supertasters, foods have much stronger flavors, which often leads to supertasters having very strong likes and dislikes for different foods. Supertasters often report that foods like broccoli, cabbage, spinach, grapefruit, and coffee taste very bitter.
The opposite of supertasters are non-tasters. Non-tasters have very few taste buds and to them, most food seems bland and unexciting. The people in the middle are average tasters. Which kind of taster do you think you are? You can find out in this science fair project by putting some blue food coloring on the tip of your tongue and counting the number of papillae there. Papillae are structures that house the taste buds. By testing a group of people (30 or more), you can determine what percentage of the population are non-tasters, supertasters, and average tasters. Which type of taster do you think is most common? Ready to find out? Then stick out your tongue and start counting!
Terms, Concepts, and Questions to Start Background Research
These websites have more information about taste, taste buds, and tongues:
This website offers help with creating graphs:
To print out polar graph paper for a pie chart, visit this website:
Materials and Equipment
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Sandra Slutz, PhD, Science Buddies
This science project idea was adapted from the following resource:
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